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I Come To Praise Bud,
2002-07-30 13:01
by Mike Carminati

I Come To Praise Bud, Not To Bury Him

Whenever he opens his mouth, Pete Rose is not doing himself any favors. Imagine that your embarassing uncle who is a bit crass and gets drunk at family get-togethers is also a geek in the local freak show. That must be the way organized baseball looks at the "Hit King". He has some somewhat reasonable things to say and then comes out with things like he feels sorry for Bud for the All-Star game and:

Of everybody in this country, I'm probably more aware of what goes on with the commissioner than anybody else. And one thing I know Bud could do to make those boos into cheers is give me a second chance.

Baseball has a big old albatross around its neck and its wering number 14, runs out bunts, and has Grecian Formula in its Mo Howard haircut. It's difficult to feel sorry for them because baseball did its best to create said albatross in the first place. Bill James has covered this ground (I think in his 1988 or 89 Baseball Book), but Rose did get a bum ride. Baseball cut a deal that included not saying that Rose bet on baseball. Then they turned around and broke the letter and the spirit of the deal.

Rose, love him or hate him, has always been about his numbers, i.e., his statistics, awards, and records. The only thing that Rose wanted after he left the sport was to be enshrined in Cooperstown. He thought that he had made a deal with Bart Giamatti to ensure his enshrinement. Giamatti went back on the deal and then promptly died, becoming a martyr in organized baseball's eyes and making Rose the villain. Should Rose be allowed to return from exile in Elba? Legally, yeah. Unless they having been hiding secret documents all this time, they have nothing to prove that Rose bet on baseball. Morally? It all depends on your point of view. But singling Rose out in this way has done more in the long run for his celebrity. If they had suspended him for a year, pressured the Reds not to re-hire him, and then let him quietly go off into the sunset of Cooperstown, it would have been a lot less trouble for everyone.

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